DVD Review: The Human Scale
The Human Scale is an interesting documentary that takes the work of Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl, who has studied human behaviour in cities over the last 40 years, and looks at how this research is influencing decisions in some of the major cities around the world. Proposing that modern cities dissuade human interaction, the focus is on taking city planning away from being car-centric and putting the focus back on humans and creating space for them, rather than creating more space to encourage more cars.
Starting with Copenhagen, where downtown streets were pedestrianised in the 1960’s, and the focus has been on bike lanes rather than roads, the results are stunning, with 35% of the cites population choosing bicycle versus 24% who choose cars as their mode of transport.
Even in New York where some of the key intersections have been allocated much more pedestrian space, the results are showing more humans gathering to socialise.
The DVD also visits Chongquing in China and Dhaka in Bangladesh, whose rapidly growing cities are not so open to public spaces, following the folly of western cites with an alarming rate of care-centric planning.
The Human Scale finishes up however, not in one of the mega cities of the world, but in our own Christchurch, where it takes a look at the devastation caused by the earthquake, the redzone in the middle of the city and how the public was encouraged to participate in the planning of how to rebuild it.
A fascinating, if somewhat predictable documentary that will make you want to pedestrianise your towns main street.
Rating: PG Coarse language.